Category Archives: Personal

We Are Not to Worry. But What Does That Mean?

Standard

God is in control.    God is my co-pilot.   God is the navigator.   Not my will, but Your will be done.

I was reflecting on the Gospel reading from this last weekend:   Matthew, Chapter 6, verses 24-34.

I won’t quote it all here, but among the text are a couple key quotes:

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?

Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.

The Bible is an amazing thing, because it is all true and authoritative, but at the same time it is quite easy to take things out of context and in isolation.    The Bible has counterbalancing messages throughout.   One of the classic examples is the admonitions to feed the poor, and then Paul’s statement that says that if a man doesn’t work he doesn’t deserve to eat.   It is easy to pick one side and dig your heels in and apply that to everything, when in fact Jesus is talking about the less fortunate poor who either can’t work or would likely desire to earn a wage if offered, whereas Paul is focused on a community of able-bodied people who all need to do their part.

After Mass this last weekend a friend of mine, who knows I scrutinize finances and try to make sound financial decisions and plan for the future (and he is the same way), smirked a bit when asking me “how’d you like today’s Gospel?”    I could tell he was tweaking me a bit, and we engaged in it.   He was conflating “planning” with “worry”.   I disagreed with him, and I think by the end of our talk he was agreeing with me.

I think to read Jesus’ words here as some instruction to forego any and all planning is not only incorrect, but it’s actually counter to what He’s trying to get people to do here, which is to not worry, as in don’t be anxious.

My friend, as we talked, had the personal revelation that his planning is his way of actually not being anxious.    I agree with that.   Perhaps more important, good planning will help your loved ones not have to worry as much.   If I didn’t plan for the future, and didn’t have my affairs in order, it would cause grave headaches for my loved ones if something happened to me.   Stress, anxiety, and probably a bit of exasperation and anger would follow.

I always remember a personal example from our Homeschool group.   My wife was getting frustrated because they would schedule events and then they wouldn’t plan them.    The leader of the group at one point remarked about how they didn’t need to because the Holy Spirit just made it all come together at the end and somehow, some way, the events turned out fine.    While maybe this was true in its literalness, my wife’s observation was that she and a couple other moms always did 90% of the work because they would have been utterly embarrassed had everyone showed up to nothing.     So these three moms ended up feeling like they had to continue taking on this burden while the others extolled the wonder of the Holy Spirit bringing it all together.    There was finally a push for some structure and reorganization in the group that led to some rifts, unfortunately.   I guess my point is, if you think you’re living the gospel by not worrying, but your lack of attention in the name of not worrying leads to the anxiety of others, then you are not properly disposed to what you’re being called to do – in my opinion.

We Christians have struggled with this balance forever.  We are in constant conflict with the opposing ideas of the necessity of what we do versus what that means about our trust in God.    One can actually take this all the way back to the heart of arguments about predestination.

Here’s how I see it:   You should plan for the future and plan for contingencies.   We should do what we feel we need to do in prudent and responsible ways.   This is not lacking trust in God.   In fact, God is likely calling us to do some of these things.    But planning and taking action should ease your mind, and not burden it.    If you are not able to do everything you would like to do, but you are doing what you can, then you need at that point to not worry and trust in God.    If you are moving past prudence and trying to outsmart God by being ready for everything imaginable under the sun by relying only on your own wisdom, then you are trusting in yourself and not in God.   If you’ve planned for X and the unexpected Y happens, you need to trust that God will help see you through – or that this suffering has a greater purpose.   If you are obsessed with perfection, you need to relax and trust in God.

This covers a lot of areas, from finances, to married life, to health, to raising kids, and so on.   One should try to make good health choices.   That may mean you’ve decided to eat in a certain way, avoiding some foods not because they bother you physically but because you’re trying to stay healthy.  But at the same time if you are traveling or visiting and the food choice is not to your general health standards, and you become obsessed with the idea that eating that burger patty is going to take 2 years off your life, then you are not in balance.   That’s worry and anxiety and something of a lack of trust.

If you feel like a store of food and water is a good idea and you take some measures and you sleep well then that’s a good thing.    If you wake up every morning wondering what you haven’t done in the event that X, Y, or Z happens and you are never comfortable with what you’ve set aside or stockpiled, then you are out of balance.

My wife and I actually were talking on Saturday about the responsibility of raising kids.   The discussion turned to her concerns about them becoming godly persons, their salvation, and everything we may not be doing to make that happen.    I was agreeing that we need to do everything we can, but we’re humans and we will fall short and at some point we need to simply ask God to fill in for our deficiencies, and that He is not going to abandon them to the wolves just because we forgot to do this thing or that thing in the overall formation of their faith.    It was almost as if that Gospel reading on Sunday was for us.

So, you see, I may be a planner, but I’m really not a worrier.   My wife is.   I’m not speaking out of turn here – she’d say the same thing.   In fact, she may well say that I don’t worry enough, and I say she worries too much.   We’re both probably right.

If you do absolutely nothing, then that certainly can be trust in God.   But you should also assess whether or not it’s just simple laziness, and whether your lack of concern is affected others.   It could be argued at times that I am lazy.

Finally, I offer my preferred analogy of our participation in life with God.    It’s fine to recognize that “God is in control” as long as you don’t use it as an excuse to eschew your obligations.   I’m not the biggest fan of that phrase, not because I think it’s false, but I think it’s a bit misapplied to our purpose.   God is ultimately responsible for everything we are – He created us, has granted us our very life, has given us our abilities, and has single-handedly opened the doors of heaven to us.    He has all the power in the Universe to control every aspect of our lives.   But that doesn’t mean he exercises that power over all of our thoughts, words, and actions.   He doesn’t.   It doesn’t mean he moves us like pawns on a chess board, maneuvering us through every situation, while at the same time maneuvering those around us.    He may well intervene on occasion because He loves us, but the very fact that some of us end up sick or injured, or dead, is self-evidence that God allows things both in and out of our control to occur that bring with them certain undesirable outcomes.   I acknowledge that God is ultimately in control to the extent He desires it, and that he has the power of full control to the extent He exercises it.    He is also a navigator, but not necessarily “the” Navigator at all times, since we have a say in the direction we go.

The co-pilot analogy is also lacking a bit, since it sort of relegates God to a secondary back-up position in our lives.   I know that “co” can mean partnership and equality, but that’s usually not how co-pilots are referenced.   There is a pilot and a co-pilot.    It may be a better analogy to say I am God’s co-pilot.

I prefer the Navigator analogy, but with a twist.    If you imagine a ship with two rudders, one large rudder for large-scale directional movements and one rudder that allows quick reactionary movements along the broader path, I see God as the Navigator of the big rudder and we are navigators along the path we’re on.    I think God moves us directionally where we are to go.   I think we need to trust and not be anxious about that direction.    But that doesn’t mean all is clear sailing in a straight line.   We may need to navigate some rough waters or around islands or icebergs and what-not as we follow our path.   We can still crash on the path God sends us if we aren’t doing what we are supposed to be doing.   We have responsibilities to uphold to ensure that we get where we are intended to go.    And even that smaller rudder can ultimately change our direction if we continually push it in opposition to the big rudder.    God makes it difficult for us to move off the direction He has chosen for us, but not impossible.

So, don’t worry about planning.

Colloidal Silver Update

Standard

Sort of random, but since I already discussed Colloidal Silver in a previous post I thought I would provide an update on what’s up with that.

So, here’s a quick update on my colloidal silver usage, for anyone interested.

As with any product, testimonials can be a good general indicator of the direction of whether or not using the product will be helpful, hurtful, or irrelevant.    But testimonials are not completely reliable as a universal indicator of the good a product can do.    Especially when you’re talking about any kind of health or medical product or treatment, we are all different.   Further, and no disrespect meant to anyone, but I think that people often attribute the benefits from the use of a single thing with a little too much generosity.   This pretty much goes for anything.   There are either other factors at play most of the time, or there could also be a bit of a placebo effect.

So, here is my honest attempt at sharing what I’ve seen so far from colloidal silver:

First of all, I have taken a small dose (1 oz, or close to it) in the morning each day.    Often, I’ll take a second dose at night.    This is my “maintenance dose” to help ward off evil spirits.   Or colds.   Or whatever it’s supposed to ward off.

Second, I’ve used it on a wart, to try and get the wart to go away.

Third, I’ve sprayed it on skin tags.

Fourth, I’ve used it in my eyes.

Here are my results:

First, I caught a cold.   So, no, taking the maintenance dose did not, in and of itself, prevent me from catching cold.    Here is the potential upside on that:   Many testimonials say that if they feel a cold coming on, they take a couple large doses (4 – 6 oz).   I did not do that.   At most, I took an extra dose of 1 oz on a couple days, and pretty much that was after I already caught my cold.    So it may be that I could have helped ward off the full effect of a cold had I been more aggressive.    Also, since I don’t have a body double in an alternate universe who did not take any colloidal silver, it is impossible for me to know with any certainty that the colloidal silver mitigated my symptoms.    But I have previous colds to compare to, and I will say that I don’t think colloidal silver reduced the length of my cold, but I do believe it mitigated the seriousness of it.    During my illness I went hunting in cold weather, attended a Packers game in wet and cold conditions, and generally did myself no favors.   My cold settled in my lungs like it always does, but in the past I would nearly always get a terrible cough, literally for weeks.   I had a moderate cough this time that cleared up much more quickly than typical (I have a genetic condition that has weakened my lungs, so this is actually a big deal to me).   Further, it is possible that I could have more success in this regard with a steam inhaler using colloidal silver.   This could more directly attack the issue and also get it more directly into the bloodstream to fight an illness.    I will also say that gargling with colloidal silver has definitely seemed to take care of potential sore throats.

My conclusion on cold/illness aversion:   The maintenance dose may help ward off minor issues, and seems to have had a mitigation of symptoms for me.   More direct use (gargling for sore throats) has seemed to have success.   However, the maintenance dose will not fully protect you from illness.   It is possible that more aggressive dosing or inhaling could help, but I have not tried that.

OK, moving on to the wart…   As far as I can tell, it did nothing.   To be fair, though, I am not sure if this thing on my finger is an actual wart, or if it is some alien life-form.  I’ve tried apple cider vinegar, iodine, and colloidal silver on this thing, and nothing’s worked.  Also to be fair, I usually try these things for a couple weeks and get bored, so it could well be that I need to stick with it for a couple months.

Conclusion on warts:  I have an alien life-form on my hand, I don’t stick with anything, and I can’t say for sure whether or not colloidal silver works.

Third:   Skin tags.   This isn’t even worth talking about.   I’ve tried spraying random skin tags at random times, but haven’t made any serious effort at continued application, so there isn’t any reasonable conclusion that could be made.

Fourth: Eyes.    I have had a couple times where I feel an infection/sty or whatever in my eyes.   I have to say that colloidal silver has been noticeably effective at heading off any sort of eye infection.   A couple drops morning and night for a day or two is all it takes.     I think that has been conclusive.

 

When I drink the colloidal silver I swish it in my mouth for a couple minutes for two reasons:   (1) direct absorption into the bloodstream through the mouth tissues, and (2) under the theory that plaque buildup is caused mainly by bacteria, I’m thinking it should help with that.    I have not had a dental cleaning since I started using it, so the jury’s out on that.   I’ll let you know what the hygienist says.

 

Also, since colloidal silver does not discriminate between good and bad bacteria, and I’m ingesting it in the morning, I have started taking good bacteria as a supplement later in the day (usually dinner time, or if I forget before bed).    My naturopath suggested getting four different kinds and rotating to a different one each day, so that’s what I’m doing.    He has no concerns that the amount I’m ingesting is enough to wreck my good bacteria, but does believe it’s a good and prudent thing to continue to introduce the good stuff in any event.

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, and Happy Advent

Standard

Since I don’t blog for a living, I will from time to time take extended breaks, since this isn’t my top priority.

That was the case over the last couple of weeks.    I started an extended vacation from work beginning November 17, and because I was trying to get everything in a place where it needed to be before I left, I haven’t submitted a blog post since a few days before that.

Today is just a check-in as I now begin the task of catching up from my time off!

A quick recap of my time off:

November 17 – My wife and I and a couple friends drove to Green Bay, Wisconsin and listened to Charlie Johnston speak.   I introduced myself as “The Diatribe Guy” after his talk and he was genuinely happy to see me.   It was nice to meet him in person.    He appreciated that I have a bit of a skeptical nature about the whole thing, while also keeping an open mind about it all.    I am respectful and try to provide a different view or insight when I comment on his blog and I think he recognizes that I am not a troll who is trying to play some game of “gotcha” but instead someone who is trying to understand, take it all in, keeping my wits about me, and maintaining prudence.    He didn’t say a whole lot I hadn’t heard him say or write before, but it’s always good to be in a small community with others.

November 18 – my birthday!   Yay me.    And as my birthday present I went to our garden an hour away to spread a mineral mix on it only for 50 mph winds to spring up out of nowhere and make spreading it impossible.   So I unloaded it and came back home.   While I was gone, our oven broke.   Since I have already paid for this oven twice because it keeps breaking down, we decide to get a new one.    My wife and I do a birthday dinner, shop for appliances, and go see a movie.   Jack Reacher.    It was OK – nothing special but a couple hours of mindless entertainment.   Lowe’s is on a two-week delivery schedule, and Thanksgiving is only 5 days away.   We pass.

November 19 – November 27:   Rifle deer hunting season in Wisconsin.    A time where the kids, the father-in-law, and me spend countless hours in the woods and see NOTHING.    Four year drought.   The only thing I got was a cold.

November 19: Appliance shopping – decide to go to a gas stove with a local dealer who can guarantee delivery by Thanksgiving.   but we are not set up for gas, so first need to find a plumber who can get to our house before Thanksgiving.     Vacation is stressful.   Wisconsin Badgers win in football, moving up to 6th in the national playoff rankings!

November 20 – Packers lost again.   Defense is horrible.

November 21:  While we are hunting in spurts throughout this whole week, this was the special day of triumph.   Spend all day at the father-in-law’s land a couple hours away, picking off huge Bucks!    Well, we spent all day there, froze our butts off and finally saw a doe about 200 yards away facing away from us with about 15 minutes left in the hunting day.    Too far to take the shot for my son, who was the only one allowed to shoot a doe in this county.   That’s as close as we got all season to shooting a deer.    My wife actually found a plumber who could come over the next day.

November 22: We have gas in the kitchen!   Well, I always have gas in the kitchen, but I mean the natural kind that runs appliances.

November 23 – Spent half the day in a dentist’s chair.    A crown in my mouth cracked.   That has been drilled out, my nub is now even a smaller nub, and a temporary crown is on. I texted my sister and said that I think my Purgatory will be continued dental work in a confined space with spiders crawling on me.   Her response was “If that is Purgatory, then Hell sounds better.”    I couldn’t even argue.   Our gas stove is delivered!   We can now make a Thanksgiving meal.

November 24:   Happy Thanksgiving!    Great meal with the whole family.   Very nice day, despite my mouth hurting from the dental work.   Despite my wife’s nervousness about getting used to gas and convection oven cooking, everything was awesome.

November 25 – 27: Lots of hunting.    My father-in-law has a habit of picking a spot to park on public land and then walking to the furthest possible point on that land from where we parked.

November 26: Badgers won again – Big Ten East Champions – will play in the Big Ten title game next week against Penn State.   Will likely remain 6th in the rankings, possibly moving to 5th.   Need to finish top four to make the playoff.

 

Looking at that recap is a synopsis of life.    A couple hurdles and unexpected irritations that need to be dealt with – so you deal with them.   You can let it get you down or you can just move forward.   Some things of highest value that bring you joy (God, family, thankfulness, time together), things you try to do but don’t succeed at and you learn from it and move on, some frivolous pursuits that bring some added color and entertainment to life…    If I recapped every week of my life it would probably look something like that.

 

So let’s move on.   It’s Advent.   Life will be busy, but when you look back at each week will you see a lot of pointless busyness at the expense of things that would have been more important, or do you see a good balance.     I look above and I like the balance overall.    In the woods, I even spent some of that time in prayer and contemplating God.

But I was on vacation – toss in my work schedule and suddenly the balance becomes harder to achieve.    I’m going to try my best to maintain a proper balance during Advent – and beyond.

Your Sin Will Find You

Standard

A few years ago my wife and I attended a Catholic homeschooling conference in Minnesota.   The keynote speaker was Jeff Cavins.

Mr. Cavins is a good man with a lot of good things to say.   In full disclosure, though, from his time on Relevant Radio as the morning host, there were times I felt he was judgmental against those with opinions other than his own.   I remember a particular show where outreach to the Spanish-speaking community in America was discussed.   I am perfectly fine with meeting people where they are at and reaching them in their own language, but I also firmly believe that, for the good of these very people, we need to empower them for future success, which includes asking them to learn English.   On this particular show, Jeff Cavins and his guest were advocating, paraphrasing here, that the Christian approach is for us all to learn Spanish deal with the fact – and expect – that some people will not learn English.

Someone called in and made the exact point I was thinking, which is basically that this is poppycock, and I don’t think it’s against Christian ideals to expect reciprocation from that community.    In other words, yes we will help them, but they need to help themselves as well so they can be the most productive members of the country they have chosen to come to.   I remember the caller making this point, in a very respectful and reasonable way.

The response was extremely cold.   I was actually offended by the reaction.   It was as if the opinion of Cavins and guest were an official doctrinal position of the Church.    What could have been a good back and forth on the respective merits of the approaches, and an understanding that we really want similar things but maybe we have a couple different ideas on the best approach, the guy was treated like a child who wasn’t deserving of their time and discussion.

Having said that, nobody is perfect.   Cavins does much good and has offered great resources to strengthen people in the faith.    The main reason I mention it is because that really, really annoyed me and it stuck with me.   And despite all his good, it goes to show how even one momentary failing can do a lot of harm.    Not that Jeff Cavins knows me or cares what I think of him one way or the other.   But it’s still a good lesson for us all – a momentary lapse of reason can haunt you.   Maybe in this case, few heard it and fewer yet looked at it the way I did, and fewer yet remember it either way.    But I remember it, and perhaps there are others like me.

Having said that, there is one other memorable thing I can remember of Jeff Cavins, and it was a talk he gave at the aforementioned homeschooling conference.   In this case, it impressed me as a piece of great wisdom, and it is this:  “Your sin will find you.”

As Christians, we all believe that we will be judged.   And we all know that some people seem to get away with all sorts of things – bad things, including things that hurt other people – without temporal repercussions.  And while, as Christians, we want everyone to abandon sinful ways and accept Christ and be saved, we also long for appropriate justice.   And thus, we simply have to trust that, whether this life or in the next, justice will be done.

So, it may not be universally true that “sin finds you” while still on this physical planet in the temporal sense.    But I think it’s true that a lot of it really does.   I think there is a reason for this.   I think one way that God brings you back to Him is to humble you so that you are forced to deal with your own sinfulness.    Perhaps if you fall and then repent, God finds that sufficient.   Perhaps if your heart is completely stone cold, there is little to be gained.   But if you are ripe for salvation but are a slave to some sin or another, you may need to be completely jolted out of your ways, and that may mean a very uncomfortable, and even public, and embarrassing revealing of who you are.

In my own life, I have seen this happen.   I have seen it happen with others around me.   And I think what we have seen over the last few months in the political arena is a perfect example of this as well.   Between all the things that have been revealed about Bill and Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, what is revealed to the world is a dark side of sin that ultimately comes at a great cost.   In the case of Hillary Clinton, it is very likely that everything that was uncovered by the Wikileaks e-mails cost her the Presidency.   In a bizarre turn, the sexting scandal of Anthony Weiner ultimately cost him his political life and his marriage, but also ensnared the Clinton campaign and also assisted in damaging her Presidential hopes.    And even though Donald Trump won, many ultimately supported him despite a number of problematic things that were uncovered and made public to the world.   Yes, he’s President and can make reparation for past sins by governing in a Godly way, but the memory of the things he has said and how he said them will not go away.   The damage to him is personal, not just in how we view him, but in how his wife and kids view him.    I’m not suggesting that there is any lack of love there, nor should there be.   But it is something they will now always know that their dad has said, and it may be a less tangible type of damage than losing the election, but it is real nonetheless.

But not all these things are ultimately a bad thing.   Whether Hillary, Bill, and Donald repent and change their ways is completely up to them.   But such public embarrassment can do it.   If one is able to self-reflect and realize that sins were committed, mistakes were made, and embarrassment occurred, then repentance can be initiated.   It can be a deep, sorrowful repentance.   Or, it can be action-oriented (“I’ll make sure I never make that mistake again”) out of fear of embarrassment.   Sure, I think God always prefers perfect contrition, but he gives us imperfect humans a lot of tools and feelings to help us do the right thing even with imperfect contrition.   And that’s still a blessing.

Even more important when discussing more public figures – but this still does apply to all of us – is that when the sins and mistakes of others are revealed it is a learning opportunity for all of us.   Do you think anyone in government with security clearance in the near future will be setting up private e-mail and lying about it?   Yeah…   don’t think so.   And that’s a good thing.   Should all of us watch our language, our conversation, and our actions at all times not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because in this day and age of constant video monitoring, cell phone usage, and internet tracking we may just be leaving a roadmap of our own sinfulness for all the world to see at some future time?    Yeah – not that I’m thrilled about the scary non-private world we live in, but it’s probably a good thing for all of us to ask the question “If I ran for office, would I want others to see and hear what I am doing and saying right now?”    It would be great if we just did the right thing because it’s the right thing and because we love God and neighbor.   But if we also do it out of a bit of a sense of fear that someone else may find out, that’s not entirely a bad thing, either.

The best antidote for your sin “not finding you” is to stop sinning.   Or, at least, go to Confession, be sorry, and work on your deficiencies.   We all have our weaknesses.   None of us are perfect.   Don’t embrace your sin – fight against it.   Those feelings of guilt you have?   Yeah, the world tell you that’s bad.   It isn’t.   It’s a gift.   Use it, but then after you are forgiven then shake the guilt for what you confessed and move forward.  We’re human – there will likely be some residual guilt for sin depending on the nature of it.   Don’t let that residual guilt allow you to question the gift of forgiveness.  Instead, use it to continue to be resolute that you don’t want to repeat your offense.   But if you do, don’t despair.    Most Catholics will tell you that they get frustrated because they end up repeating the same sins and confessing them over and over.    The goal isn’t to just go with it because you can go to confession.   The goal is to stop.   But that goal is much harder than it seems – it takes multiple confessions and continued grace to stop your bad behavior.   Hopefully, you will sin less often, and less severely.   But it will happen.   Let that guilt get you to confession – that’s healthy.   Despair is not.

Will your sin find you?    Yes, it will.   But better that it finds you sooner rather than never, and that you work to correct it.   Better that it finds you in a way that puts you on your knees and gets you to confession.    In the end, you can never be happy that you sinned, but you may thank God for the gift of your sin finding you.

Drinking Silver

Standard

On a completely random note, I’ve been drinking silver.

No, I haven’t boiled down my kitchen utensils,

I’ve been experimenting with colloidal silver.

Why would I do this cry thing, you ask?   Good question.

So, I’ve shared some of the interesting health issues I’ve had over the last year.   I’ve engaged both typical docs as well as pursued a more naturalistic route.   I’ve tried some interesting things along the way, and I must say that on an overall basis the more targeted natural treatment has done quite well.    I am not against engaging in medicines or other treatment if necessary, but I do not want that to be the first path I take.

In the past year I’ve managed to get my blood pressure down and improve my overall health without medication.   I won’t bore with the details.

So, at some point I decided to study the uses of colloidal silver.   After a lot of reading, consultation, and testimonials I decided to take the plunge.

The first thing I realized was that buying colloidal silver is prohibitively expensive.   But you can make your own.   So I bought a highly recommended colloidal silver generator.   It’s still pricey at over $200, but if used consistently it pays for itself very quickly.   In fact, it already has.

Here’s my own experiments so far:   (1) I swish an ounce in my mouth and gargle every morning and evening before swallowing.   (2) I have put a few drops on a band-aid and put it over a wart I have had forever. (3) I spray if on a skin tag I have once or twice a day.

(1) This maintenance dose is supposed to help attack any microbials you may have ingested that are sitting in your stomach, and the gargling helps to attack any hanging out in your throat (tonsils).   Silver is a natural antibiotic but doesn’t come with the same risks of resistance as traditional antibiotics.   It’s also shown to have anti-viral properties.    While this small does won’t guarantee you won’t ever get sick, it’s supposed to help prevent getting sick.    (2) Under the theory that warts might be caused by viruses, I tried this.   It’s not gone, but much smaller, and looks to be working.  (3) Spraying the skin tag has done absolutely nothing that I can see.

silver-dudeI share this for one main reason – I really don’t care whether or not people think it works or doesn’t, is nutty or isn’t.   I won’t argue or debate it.   Do your own research and believe what you will.   But what I will say is that anyone who argues that this is harmful or could kill me is simply wrong.  There are countless people using colloidal silver with no ill effects, and the concerns on the product date back to a much cruder version, at much higher concentration, and much higher doses.    So, try it or don’t, but anyone who scares you off on it – even a physician – doesn’t really know what they are talking about.   The guy pictured above is a poster child for fear-mongers.    He drank a bunch of colloidal silver, apparently, and look what happened!

One thing to understand is that this condition is rare.   The other thing to know was that he was drinking 10 to 20 ounces per day for 10 years, and using salt as an absorption accelerant.    The final thing to know is that despite the appearance, there was no actual health issues that came from this condition.   His death at the age of 62 was smoking related.    Basically, the point is that abusing anything can lead to undesirable side effects.

One of the main reasons I got it was because silver is a proven natural antibiotic.   I don’t know what the future holds.   I do know there are many more cases of medical antibiotics not working, and who knows if they will ever be in limited supply.    This, to me, was a prudent step to prepare for uncertain times.

Just thought I’d share.

Team Hamstring

Standard

So, on a completely different and personal note…

My son was part of a Flag Football League this year.   The last game was called off, and it was decided that it would be fun to have the team play against parents, coaches, and teachers.

My initial response was “This is not a good idea.”

My wife and son finally convinced me to play the game.

I am 48 years old, and I work at a desk.   I used to be a very good athlete.   Used to be.

Result:  Severely pulled hamstring.

But I was not alone.   Two other pulled hamstrings and a pulled calf muscle, and it was determined by more than just me that “maybe that was not a good idea.”

I’m on the mend, but it will be a few weeks before I can do any vigorous exercise.   Not that I did before.

A Medical Year to Remember

Standard

The last year has been an interesting one for me on the medical front.   While this is getting somewhat personal, there really isn’t anything I feel needs to be kept to myself on it.   And there’s a couple reasons I’m sharing, from just thinking that my experience may help others figure out some other options in their health care to a spiritual component, keeping all things in perspective.   Kind of the theory that there are no true coincidences – everything has a purpose.

Around October 2015, I started feeling tired all the time.   Nothing specific, just didn’t feel right.   I decided to schedule a hair mineral analysis test and then do a consult with a Doctor who specializes in that area.   My consult, though, wasn’t until the end of March 2016.   OK, whatever.   I can deal.

It was Christmas 2015.   Anyone who knows me knows that Christmas is my favorite day of the year.   I love absolutely everything about it.   I love what it means from my Catholic perspective – the birth of the Savior of the World, the humility in how He came to us, the joy that accompanied His arrival…  everything.   I also love all of our celebratory traditions.   I am not a person opposed to the gifts, the treats, the decorations, the lights, the music…   oh, the MUSIC!    I find it all enjoyable, awesome, and in no way detracting from the real meaning of Christmas.   Yes, people can go overboard and lose focus, but that is an issue with the person, not the thing.

So, it’s Christmas morning and…   I’m in pain.    And I know the pain.   Kidney stone.   I’ve had them a few times and have become intimately familiar with the drill.

OK, so in the past I’ve gone to the E.R., but now I know what to do.    Get ahead of the pain with pain meds.   Except this time I have an accompanying symptom.   My bladder feels so full I swear it is going to explode, except that I have continually emptied it.   This did not alleviate, and it was a tossup as to what was more uncomfortable – the pain associated with the stone itself or the unceasing feeling of a bladder that has no more room at the Inn.

This whole thing concerned me to the point where, once again, it was off to the E.R.    You need to understand here that I am cheap (I personally believe it should be lovingly referred to as prudently frugal).   A trip to the E.R. costs money, which now also causes psychological distress.   But it is what it is, and I needed to find out what was going on.

So, while the kids were celebrating their new presents I was in the hospital, as was my wife who was there to pretend she wanted to be there with me on this most celebrated day of our Lord.

OK, fast forwarding a bit, the docs were concerned about the bladder symptom as well and I had a CT scan.   The good news was that my bladder was in no danger of exploding, the bad news was that this was apparently my body’s current reaction to having the stone near it.   Yay.   In other words, suck it up and deal with it because there’s really nothing to be done, and there are no drugs that really take away the sensation of needing to urinate.

Oh, and by the way, it looks like you have some fat in your liver.   Eat less fat.

And so it was.   And I passed the stone that night, and life went on.

I had my hair mineral analysis.    And then my consult in late March as scheduled.    My analysis showed some interesting things.   Most of my readings were either low, or at the low end of normal range.    A few things didn’t show up at all.   I began a general protocol addressing my HMA results, along with the general knowledge of the Kidney Sotne issues, my propensity towards headaches, my general fatigue issues, and general GI/stomach issues.

Around that time, I had pain in my lower abs area.  OK, yes, near the groin if you must know.    I also had a bulge in the area previously unknown to me.   I’m thinking possible tumor or a hernia.   So I scheduled a doctor’s appointment for late April.

The night before my doctor’s appointment, I passed another kidney stone.   I didn’t go to the E.R. this time – I got ahead of the pain with the leftover meds I have.   Man, those things suck.

Doctor’s appointment – good news…  no hernia or tumor.   Looks like a fatty tissue deposit that I don’t really need to worry about, and the pain is likely a groin muscle strain.

Oh, but we need to talk…   the CT scan you had…  the diagnosis is SEVERE fatty liver.

Um…  what?   They just said I have some fatty liver and to eat a little better.

No, it’s severe.   Which is a bit odd, since all liver function tests are normal.   So, I want to run some more detailed tests to see what’s going on that aren’t as typical.   Oh, and by the way, back in 1996 when you had knee surgery your orthopedic surgeon ran a blood test that showed borderline underperforming thyroid function,.    I have no idea why an orthopedic surgeon would have run that, but since he did let’s do that too and see what’s going on there.

I won’t go into how I pass out with blood tests.

Fast forward to results:   (1) My thyroid is wonky.   Hypothyroidal.  (2) Copper is low.   Weird.   Alpha-1 % and Alpha-2 % are both low.   Weird again.   Outside of my doc’s expertise – see a GI doc.   Oh, and suddenly my blood pressure is really high.

GI doc – normal overall liver function, nothing to see from physical exam.   Probably nothing, but let’s run a couple other tests to rule everything out and be done with it all.   And, oh by the way, anyone reading a CT scan and trying to proclaim liver conditions as anything specific and assigning severity is guessing.   You can only do that from a biopsy, which we’re not going to do.   So don’t lose too much sleep over it.  And, oh, you need to pee into this bucket for the next 24 hours.

Fast forward to further tests:   Wilson’s disease, no.   But you actually do have low antitrypsin.   Interesting.   We need to do a genetic panel.

Final answers: (1) Thyroid is likely contributing to fatigue issues – I am not doing medication yet.   Talked the doc into giving me a few months.   Working with the hair mineral analysis doc on ways to address that, including putting iodine tincture on every day.  (2) I have a genetic condition that I won’t even try to describe in medical terminology.   Basically, I only produce 60% of normal antitrypsin levels.  Antitrypsin is produced in the liver.   I also produce a defective protein that is not recognized by the liver.   This might be difficult for the liver to eliminate, and could produce scarring and liver damage.    Antitrypsin also is what protects the lungs from all sorts of things.   A deficiency could lead to lung problems, including emphysema.   The good news is that 60% production should be enough for a normal and healthy life as long as I minimize my exposure to things that can cause lung issues.   No smoking for me…    I also may be more susceptible to prolonged cough symptoms that accompany colds and flu and may have more difficulty recovering, so I need to do my best to stay healthy in the first place and avoid as much of those circumstances as I can.  (3) High blood pressure is not quite where they’d recommend medication (I wouldn’t go on it anyway) but I need to monitor.   Buy a band.

Since then, I have no passed any more kidney stones.    I have a follow-up thyroid function blood test in November.   I have been on varying protocols with the HMA doc as new information has emerged from all these tests.

Here’s what is interesting to me.   There is almost no way under normal circumstances that I would have ever looked into or otherwise discovered that I have this genetic condition.   But now that I know I have it, I can eat certain foods and take certain supplements and do certain things that will really help me live a healthy life with this condition.   This all came about because of bladder sensation while passing a kidney stone, combined with thinking I had a hernia that I didn’t have.   Also, had my orthopedic surgeon 20 years ago not done a TSH test, I likely would not have pressed for one, and I probably didn’t give my doctor enough general information that would have led him to believe I needed one.   But now I know I have that issue and can deal with it.

I guess you never know what to expect, but I feel that this all came about in such a unique way that there was some guiding hand out there that decided it was time for me to get healthy and deal with these somewhat hidden issues.   As uncomfortable as it was, as much as I didn’t want to spend Christmas Day curled up in pain, and as much as it cost me I am nonetheless thankful to be where I am at.

I am a believer in both conventional medicine and alternative medicine.   I want to find a way to cure or help my body first through natural remedies, but also think there is a time where you accept the blessings of modern medicine as well.    I have followed the advice of the HMA doc and been doing some interesting things.    I feel better overall, my recent Hair Mineral Analysis shows improved mineral readings, and I think this is the first major step to getting back to where I need to be.   I’m drinking a juiced lemon every day that I can and taking a number of supplements.   I am using tanning beds to get natural Vitamin D and avoiding D supplements.    I have learned that the Vit D/Vit A/Vit K needs to be in balance, and it is likely mine was not.   I need to produce D naturally and I need A to remove excess D, and I need K to deposit my Calcium where it is supposed to go, and not in my Kidneys or arteries.    I am supplementing with copper to get that level up.   Exercise and sleep are very important – I am trying to do better with both, but old habits die hard.    Interestingly, my blood pressure is now back to normal levels.

I am also having my amalgam fillings removed.   I know this is a point of debate, and to be honest I am not certain how convinced I am that it is necessary.   But I’ve decided that if I do it, then any question about it is gone and I don’t have to worry about it.

I am willing to try just about anything that makes some kind of potential sense to me.

So, to finalize my thoughts on this, why did I blog about this today?   Well, first, from the standpoint of faith and trust, i am not saying there is no such thing as coincidence, but I think we tend to overstate what might be coincidence because – for whatever reason – it is difficult for us to believe that God is directly intervening in our life to bring something about.   What I think is interesting about this aspect of God in our lives is that seldom does He just give us a direct answer via a dream or something.   It’s not like He sent me a note, saying “Get your antitrypsin levels checked.   And your thyroid.   K, thx…   God.”    He finds a way to bring it about that may not even be all that pleasant, but nonetheless gets us where we need to be.   It’s almost like His price tag to giving us this information is an opportunity for us to join in Christ’s redemptive suffering on the cross.   Even on Christmas!

The other thing that is interesting to me is the timing.   I have been referring to Charlie Johnston and what he says is coming.   I don’t want to overdo it with that, but it’s worth keeping in mind.   If he is right, then the timing and the timeline needed to get all this straight for me is difficult for me to write off as entirely coincidental.   It could be that the time has come to prepare myself for the times ahead and be ready physically for whatever it is my family and others will need me for.

In any case, interesting times for me, and for all of us.

 

 

 

 

A World Undone

Standard

I’ve been quiet lately for a few reasons, but in large part because I decided to spend whatever free time I had working on a Pro-Life song that I’ve been developing for quite some time.    I finally just set aside other things and recorded it.

The song is called “A World Undone.”    The purpose of it is to convey a Pro-Life message, but not to lay blame at others.   We are in this world together and we all feel the effects of abortion.   Most of us have fallen short on doing everything we can do to stop the atrocity of abortion.

The song is a prayer, a reflection, and a call for forgiveness – for all of us.   It is a cry for mercy on us, and for a conversion of hearts.

I hope you enjoy it.    Please feel free to share it with others.

Tattoo or not Tattoo

Standard

jesus-tattoo-by-dennis-wehler-728x868Let me lay all my biases out from the beginning:   This opinion comes from both a Catholic/Faith perspective, but also deeply on my own opinion of tattoos.   And I have yet to hear any argument that has convinced me that getting a tattoo – especially one of visual prominence – makes any sense whatever.   I think they are stupid, pure and simple.   I know that rankles people, but I have a right to my opinion.   So, I’m going to be evaluating the question from the perspective of someone coming from a good, Catholic, family who is debating the relative merits of getting a tattoo, but wanted to make clear my initial bias in this question.   I admit I will not be able to refuse my opinion of it from my personal bias, and actually I am not even going to try all that hard to do so, because quite honestly I think the reason I already feel that way (and always have) is because I did the more balance, honest evaluation of their merits years and years ago.

So, anyway, my wife has these occasional get-togethers with other homeschooling Catholic moms.   The families range in various sizes and in various stages of where they are in life.    Some have large families (8+ kids) with some kids already graduated and in adulthood, and it goes all the way down to those with a couple young kids just getting rolling.

Without exception, every family takes their faith life seriously, and it is important to them to pass on their Catholic faith to their children.   Of course, we all have our own approaches and styles, and one could debate the strategy of trying to make this happen all day long.  Ultimately, all this really tells me is that none of us our perfect and it shows the importance of relying on God all the more in our journey as parents.   One of my favorite little prayers to utter is “God, please help these kids turn out OK despite my own stupidity and laziness.”

One of the moms is struggling a bit because her 2nd oldest son has a couple tattoos.   And now the third one has a sizeable tattoo on his forearm and wants to get one on his other forearm.    She has tried to argue for why this isn’t a good idea, and as is typical of young men, they think they know better than their mom.    Now, these young men, to my knowledge, have not strayed in their Catholic faith, still find it important, and still practice it.   They do not see any conflict with the faith and getting a tattoo.

And this is where my opinion comes in.

First, let me be clear.    I do not think, nor will I suggest, that there is anything intrinsically evil or sinful with tattoos.   Like many things, the real question is a matter of what is driving someone to do something.   But I do think that someone really needs to be honest with themselves in evaluating why they want a tattoo if they are indeed considering one.   This shouldn’t be problematic – we really should do this with everything we do.  Why do a I want ten million dollars?   Because I want to give it away to the poor or because I want to have an easy life with little or no responsibility?   Most of us would fall somewhere in between those two extremes, and while most of us aren’t going to get ten million dollars it’s still a worthy mental exercise to go through an honest evaluation and promise yourself and God what it is you would plan to do with it if it ever happened.\

Here are my opinions and responses to some of the clever (or not so clever) arguments on the matter.

  • Argument: Getting a tattoo today is like getting your ear pierced years ago.   It has become much more accepted, and is not looked at as a big deal.    Full disclosure – I got my ear pierced in my college days.   I was in a rock band, admittedly liked the looks of it, and I did it.   I don’t even regret it.   I thought it looked cool.   There was no more motivation behind it than that.   But I am not being a hypocrite here, in my opinion, with that comparison.   Because even back then, I considered the questions, and even then there were people getting tattoos and doing all sorts of other things.    I knew and considered that at any time this was reversible.   I knew that at some point in my life, I may well consider the wearing of an earring silly or immature.    I knew I could take it out at any time if the situation called for it without needing to mask it.    It may or may not have been a dumb thing to do, and I may or may not have had other opinions of me diminished because of it, but the impact was minimal.    Also, I could switch it up for the right occasion – a simple stud for normal wear or something gaudier for a show, or nothing at all for a trip to the parents who I knew didn’t love it.    So, I get the comparison, and the social attitude may be comparable, but the reality of what you are doing is not comparable.
  • Argument: But <insert morally upright individual> has one, and if he has one, it can’t be all that bad!     In Catholic circles, the argument du jour is Father Stan Fortuna , who is a Catholic Priest with tattoos.    OK, this is always a stupid argument for many reasons, and I’ll address why.   Before I do, let me go on record as not intending in any way to disparage Father Stan Fortuna.   I honestly have no qualms about him doing what he does or having a tattoo – again, he knows why he does.    But whenever someone points to “a” person as the example among a sea of counterexamples, it is in no way an honest argument.   If you are truly going to make your life decisions based on the example of others, then you don’t look for exceptions to justify your own behavior.   You look for what the majority of people are doing that you admire and respect.   Exceptions are just that – exceptions.   And there’s a reason why they are exceptions.   Now, lest you think I am making an argument about just following the crowd, that’s misreading what I am saying.   Being a devout Catholic in and of itself is already not following the crowd.   But once you commit yourself, then you do want to follow the examples of other devout Catholics.    Most importantly, Venerables, Blesseds, Saints, and the other holy men and women we meet in our life should be very important role models, emulators, and mentors for us.   We should follow this crowd whenever the question is something that has a moral or spiritual component to it.    And in this case, the vast majority of examples in this group have not littered their body with tattoos.   Exceptions exist, of course.   But you have to acknowledge the predominant behavior and consider why that is the case.   And it is  a much stronger case.
  • Permanence Matters: My opinion.   But while young people don’t like to consider getting older or meeting other people or needing to be a good example for future children and all that, time moves quickly.   I’m 48 and I can still very clearly remember my high school and college days.   I remember how I thought about things, felt about things…   young people today have a difficult time thinking we can relate but I can tell you those youthful memories are very clear – we do get it.    I may think it’s stupid to color your hair pink, or pierce your nose, or wear some of the clothes you wear.   And I may argue why those things are stupid, and you may ignore me because I’m older and I don’t get it (even though I generally thought the same thing when I was young).    But ten years from now you won’t have that hair color any more, you probably won’t have the nose piercing, and you won’t be wearing those same clothes.   Because you’ll grow and mature and change the way you think, and for your own reasons decide that it’s time to move on from that experimentation.    But you ink a huge Eagle – or even a Cross – on your forearm or your back and it’s there forever unless you go through the agonizing and expensive experience of having it removed.    To not even rationally consider this element of getting a tattoo shows a lack of maturity and foresight, in my opinion.
  • Desecration of the Temple matters: OK, I want to reiterate that the heart is what matters.   And someone may really think and believe that they have a good reason for doing what they are doing.   And they may even think God likes them getting a religious tattoo.   But God still made you the way you are – without them.    Relating this to permanence, you are purposely changing yourself.    Others may disagree with me, but this smacks of someone thinking that they can improve upon what God has made you.    This isn’t trying to keep you healthy or fix a medical condition.   It’s fundamentally changing the intended design of who you are and how you were made.   Sure, it may be cosmetic in nature, but it’s also readily apparent for all to see.
  • Size matters: I am against all tattooing, but like all other things of questionable nature there is scale as well to consider.   If I see someone with a pierced nose, I may think it unnecessary and a bit silly, and I don’t really get the draw, but it’s not an overwhelming shock.    If I see someone with a nose, lip, eyebrow, and cheek pierced I am going to form an unfavorable opinion of that person in some way.   I try not to be judgmental, and I am not supposed to judge the heart, and I try my best not to.   But this person is also bringing a bit of this upon themselves by publicly mutilating their body.    My judgment isn’t really one about the salvation of the person.  It is more a general feeling that something is really missing in this person’s life that they are trying desperately to fill.    Others may go to other unfavorable thoughts of what that person might be like it.   And you can lecture as much as you want about that being wrong, but it is also human nature, and quite frankly it’s not 100% wrong.   We are given the discernment to separate out right from wrong and right things from wrong things.   Without even judging the heart of a person, I am not going to apologize for knowing that there is something wrong or problematic about the actual act and display of getting multiple piercings.   I will just try not to jump to conclusions about the person – though it can be very hard to separate the two.      Likewise, I could probably live with a small tattoo that may have some unknown personal meaning, but the more there are and the bigger they are is going to directly impact my first impression of you.   And as to the argument that it’s my problem and not yours, that’s dead to me.   Sure, any judgment may be my problem to an extent, but it’s also yours.   Whether endearing yourself to future in-laws, applying for work, making new friends, etc.  these things are all your problem.   And unless you never judge anyone for anything, you can’t expect others to act any differently.   And if nobody ever judges anything, then God help us all.

I could actually go on.   Believe it or not, there are still additional points I could make.   But I’ll leave it to this last thing:

  • Find older people in your Church who you know to be faithful people, who also have predominant tattoos. Get to know them and then ask them if they are glad they have them.     I have done this on a few occasions, and in most cases there is regret.   In some cases there is acceptance that they did what they did and it doesn’t bother them.    In no cases yet have I heard anyone thrilled to death about how great their tattoo is, and they’d do the same thing all over again, and only regret that they don’t have more.

 

Of course, I could be completely wrong.

I Don’t Listen Enough

Standard

It is a good and right thing to form opinions and to express them.   It is even better if those opinions are formed, with the best of your ability, in alignment with a well-formed conscience, with a mind towards God, with a mind towards Catholic teaching, and of course Sacred Scripture.

But we are human, and we all have our own life experience.   I wrote a couple days ago about how we all have a unique set of life experiences that help make us who we are.

Because of this, our opinions can gravitate to areas in response to specific circumstances and experiences.   Two people can fundamentally agree on the morality of a particular act, while still fundamentally differing on ancillary things in association with that act.   Whether you feel empathy and compassion for someone engaged in a behavior or whether you think people need to be punished for it will likely be due to past experiences that have led you to this point of view.   That, along with natural differences in temperament and personality contribute as well.

I reflect on my own weaknesses in this area.   I have very strong convictions and opinions on the rightness and wrongness of many things.   That is unwavering.    However, I think we often equate a pastoral attitude, empathy, and compassion with compromise on principle.

In my own experience, I sat on the board of a Pregnancy Center for six years.   The entire Board of Directors were very strongly Pro-Life and felt abortion was absolutely wrong.   But it would have been counterproductive and harmful if the folks working in the office – and the Board supporting them – had viewed the visitors with a judgmental heart.   There are times and places for the politics and the arguments, but not here.   This was a place to welcome them, to listen to them, to try and understand their situation, and only then could we try to steer them away from considering an abortion.   We needed to address the person, the situation, the experiences.   If we simply addressed the issue they would walk out and never come back, and probably tell everyone else they knew about their experience.

But in our personal, daily lives, how often do we forget this?   Shouldn’t all our interactions start with that approach?    Sure, they probably should.

But I’m horrible at it.   Because it requires that a person actually listen, and also care.

I am going to try and improve.   I think a simple way of doing that is to try and get in the habit of asking a question along the lines of “So, what has led you to look at things this way?”   And then shut up until they are done.

We’ll see how it goes.